The annual Meeting of Northern Premiers recently took place in Inuvik, where they discussed topics such as climate change, Arctic security and sovereignty, infrastructure opportunities, and more.
This was the first time the meeting had been held outside of Yellowknife since 2011. In attendance were Premier Caroline Cochrane, Premier Ranj Pillai, and Premier P. J. Akeeagok.
On the subject of Arctic Sovereignty and Security, the Premiers acknowledged that the Northern territories make up a significant portion of Canada’s international borders. Growing global attention in the region, along with recent incidents have underscored its vulnerability and the need for increased investment from Canada.
As the federal government considers the next major national infrastructure fund to succeed the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, Premiers called for secure territorial allocations with terms that recognize the fiscal capacity and priorities of Northern governments, and flexibility to address the distinct realities in each jurisdiction.
For Critical Minerals, the North holds many of the critical minerals necessary to support the low-carbon future of Canada and the world. The Premiers called on the federal government to create a Northern specific mineral exploration tax credit to complement existing tax incentives for mining, given the high operating costs in the region. Premiers also acknowledge the importance of protecting Indigenous ways of life and ensuring cultural activities are not impeded.
Housing affordability and accessibility is a pressing focus for the territories. Premiers called for meaningful engagement by the federal government on the delivery and design of the National Housing Strategy and other targeted programs to ensure Northerners have access to an adequate and affordable supply of quality housing. Premiers expressed the need for territorial specific funding under the Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Strategy.
The territories, much like the rest of the country, are experiencing labour shortages. Challenges are particularly acute in some sectors, including health care, particularly nurses. Recognizing that economic growth relies on a strong labour market, Premiers discussed ways to address these challenges particularly through collaboration with other jurisdictions.
When speaking on Climate Change, the Premiers took a moment to express their concern for the ongoing situation s in Hay River and Kátł’odeeche First Nation, as well as the flooding in Fort McPherson. They commended the efforts of emergency personnel and volunteers who have been battling these disasters and providing services to evacuees. Premiers discussed the need for Nation building levels of investment towards proven reliable clean energy sources. This allows us to take a leadership role in meeting Canada’s emission targets, and fully unlocks the potential of resources required for the low carbon transition.